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Solina Top Tutorial in our Iconic Embroidered Fantasy Cotton by Victoria Smith

Hi, I am Victoria and I am so excited to be a blogger for Lamazi Fabrics! Let me just start by saying I completely appreciate their curated collection of fabrics! I know when I go onto the website, I will find something I love within minutes and it will be amazing quality! The shipping is awesome as well because I strongly dislike paying for shipping to the US! If I spend 85 pounds then, BAM, I get free shipping. That is not hard to do because the fabric is so beautiful, great quality, and I like to buy a lot of it!! HA! 

I will discuss below:

-Fabric choice

-Pattern choice

-Pattern modifications

-Pattern layout

-Pattern construction


-Zipper construction

-Adding elastic and gathers



Fabric choice:

My first step was to choose fabric and a project. When I first saw this embroidered cotton called Fantasy, I was absolutely dying to make something with it immediately! It was so inspiring! The fabric feels like a cotton lawn. It is light and breathable and very easy to work with. It presses well and I used lower heat just because of the embroidery. I did hand wash the fabric and hang it dry. It handled this beautifully! Of note, I also ordered about 1/2 meter extra fabric more than what I thought I would need to make the top to account for some of the modifications to the pattern below. This was more than enough. If you are not making the dress, you will have extra in your fabric requirements naturally as well if you go with those measurements.

Pattern choice:

When approaching this project, I wanted to really honor the fabric and put it on display! I also didn’t want to make a dress (although I usually do) because I decided it would get more attention and be better highlighted as a fabric using a skirt or top pattern. I was trying to get puffed sleeves going with this top as this whole fabric print screams extra!!!! At the same time, I also wanted a top that had simple lines to contrast and highlight the details of the embroidery. I didn’t want a plain t-shirt, however, because then it would not match the greatness of the fabric in my opinion. I know it sounds like I am making this harder than it really is! Bottom line is, you make whatever your heart desires with this fabric, and this is what I decided to make! I think it is a perfect pair!!! I think any shirt or skirt pattern that is mostly simple but has a little edge to it would be perfect! 

I have made the Solina dress from the Named Clothing Breaking the Pattern book before and I wanted to try out the top. In the book, it shows an example of a sleeveless top. However, I wanted drama upon drama, so of course I decided to keep the sleeves and make them bigger (more on that later)! This is not difficult to change but I am going to go through my modifications slowly so you can all know what I did to transform this into the beautiful top that it is! 

Pattern Modifications:

The most simple change is the length of the bodice pieces. When you trace these pieces off of the pattern included in the book, there are specific lines for the jumpsuit cutoff, the top cutoff and the dress (full length). You can trace the pattern to the “top” line or cut your already traced dress pieces at the line listed for the “top.” There is a notch on the back piece just above where the “cut for top” line is and I am assuming this is for the bottom of the invisible zipper for later! 


The biggest change I made was to still include the sleeves, make them bigger, and still include the ties. For the ties, you still cut 6 ties, although it tells you to cut two for the top version. It only says to cut 2 because you will not have a sleeve. On this top, I decided on having sleeves, so I still needed 6 ties! 

Next, I decided to trace off the sleeve pattern piece again so it could be fresh and altered and I could keep the old sleeve pattern piece. While tracing, you can make one very big change easily! I shortened the sleeve by 4 inches because I didn’t want a long poof sleeve, I wanted something that was more like a 3/4 length sleeve. Because I was removing 4 inches, I moved all the notches up four inches as well.



Now comes the fun part! We are going to expand the bottom of the sleeve to make it more gathered at the base and have a nice poof where the tie will be. I used this book below to help me through this modification!: 

Patternmaking for Fashion Design 

I thought about adding poof to the base of the sleeve as well but decided I just wanted more of a bishop sleeve. You will start by marking in the seam allowance at the cap of the sleeve. I did this by making little marks and then connecting them.


Now that you have traced your new sleeve and modified it so far by shortening it, you can cut it out and set it on some more tissue tracing paper as you will be slashing and spreading the pattern and can use the tissue paper underneath to fill in the gaps. You do not need to attach the sleeve piece to the tissue just yet, just lay it on top. Then, I found the center of the sleeve starting from the center notch on the top of the sleeve and drawing a line to the bottom of the center sleeve. Then you draw lines that are equidistant from the edge of the sleeve to this middle line. I used the bottom of the sleeve to help guide me with this, as this is an easy place to measure and find midpoints. 


Then, I cut all the way up these lines from the hem or bottom of the sleeve to the seam allowance line, not through it. 


Then spread each section out as far as you want. I decided on 2 inches in between each of the very bottom cut edges! 

I taped everything down onto the tissue paper the pattern piece is sitting on!


Then, I used a French curve to true the bottom seams or connect them smoothly.


VOILA!! Just cut around your newly made sleeve and enjoy! We will start going through making the pattern as usual now!


Pattern Layout: 

When approaching the pattern layout, I was surprised I had not noticed before that the fabric definitely has a right way up and the pieces need to be cut out that way! There are buildings and structures that cannot be upside down! 


The pattern acts as a border print, even though it runs through the whole width of the fabric! I had to cut all pieces on the crossgrain. I think this will be fine as there is not strain on most of the pieces and the material doesn’t really drape. I don’t think the shirt will become out of shape with this pattern. I think a skirt would work fine as well.

In order to cut some of the pieces on the fold I took the fabric and folded it down with the cut edge folded down the yardage and the selvedges folded upon each other. 

This will make a lot more sense when you actually see the fabric and how the embroidery is done!! Make sure that no matter how you cut out your pieces, if you are cutting on a double layer, make sure both layers have the embroidery decor right side up. There are ways you can fold the material that will give you one right side up piece and one upside down piece! 

Also, don’t be silly like me and cut out pieces you don’t need!!! If you are adding sleeves and keeping the collar for the top version, you don’t need the front and back facing! That is only if you are doing the sleeveless top version without a collar I believe!


Pattern Construction:

I will start by saying that this is a cotton lawn that is not super thin and delicate so I used a regular sized needle. Either a 75/11 or 80/12 sharp or universal will do well! Also, my machine did not get stuck on the embroidery or have any problems with moving forward on the fabric. However, if yours does have trouble, you can possibly use a walking foot.



I have pointed this out in my YouTube video when I made the dress, but upon sewing in the ties in the front, I sewed a rectangle around the raw edge of the tie so that it is well hidden! It does not really explain this in detail but it does show a rectangle being sewn in the picture. I also followed the dart lines exactly on the back bodice piece, even though they don’t close all the way at the bottom. That is ok because it acts as a pleat! 


Zipper construction:

Before inserting the zipper, you will need to attach some bias tape to stabilize the seam! I use this kind and it irons right on and is pre-cut to 3/8 inch wide which is what I needed! It’s very easy! 

Then, make note of where to put the zipper top. I used the plastic stopper at the top to measure where to put the zipper. I put the top of this plastic stopper 3/8 inch below the seam between the inner and outer collar. This is how it is instructed in the book; however, it isn’t stated super clearly. I am showing you these pictures just for clarification.



I also did something a little different when it came to sewing down the inner collar to the zipper. I went ahead and folded down the inner color right sides together onto the outer collar and sewed 3/8 inch from the edge or right onto the edge of the zipper so when it is turned right side out it will line up with the zipper edge. This is hard to explain but here are several pictures! 

Then I clipped the corner and turned the corner out!

I went ahead and pinned down the inner collar to the rest of the bodice and made sure it was slightly past the seam between the bodice and outer collar. I pinned generously and then decided to stitch in the ditch from the right side with my pins remaining in the garment. I have done this many other times and it works really well!


Adding elastic and gathers:

For this part, you will need 1 inch single fold bias tape and 3/8 inch elastic.

We will be using the elastic to gather the garment evenly where the ties will be going around the sleeve so that the extra built into the pattern modification isn’t gathering awkwardly with the ties. First, you will need to take your 3/8 inch elastic and measure around your arm where a three quarter sleeve would end and add 1/2 inch on both sides to the total measurement. Cut two pieces like this for insertion into a tunnel you will create. I decided to add some bias binding on the inside of the sleeve at the point where the ties are attached, horizontally traveling across the sleeve to create this tunnel. 

You will not have basted the ties to the shirt just yet. In the middle of where you will baste the ties, you will run a line of single fold bias tape horizontally across the sleeve on the inside! You will edge stitch the bias tape down so that you can still fit some elastic within this tunnel you are creating. Fold the edges that will meet at the underarm seam under so that they will not be raw. Make sure to leave both edges open so you can insert the elastic. I went ahead and left the edges about 1/2 inch away from the side underarm seam so you won’t catch it in your seam. You will then attach a safety pin to some 3/8 inch elastic and pass it through this tunnel! You will sew it down at one edge with about a half inch sticking out across the bias tape. You will pull it to the desired tightness that you calculated before, about 1/2 inch past the edge, accounting for your extra. Then you will sew it down on the other side across the bias tape, closing the tunnel. Cut the elastic off so that the elastic edges should be just buried under the edge of the bias tape. Now the sleeve is perfectly gathered and the ties will just be around these gathers and more of a decoration. 


Now baste on the ties and proceed normally with the sleeves for the top and I finished the edge with the tie on as instructed!

I would like to point out that with the ties sewn into the bodice of the top, it makes it slightly difficult to hem the bottom of the bodice. However, I just pressed about 1/4-3/8” up and then again to make a hem that was small. I serged the edges before hemming just to give it some more structure.


Well I came across several problems with fit, I think most are my fault! The first problem was that I used a 12-14 inch invisible zip, when I think I should have used a 20-22 inch zip to help get the garment over my chest and ribs a little better. I was afraid it would be too long but this is what the pattern called for and you can always shorten it! Also, I think when sewing the ties onto the bodice, I took in and pinched a little too much fabric. I went according to the markings and possibly a little bit extra. This made the bodice impossible to get over my head so I ripped the stitches out that were used to attach the ties. I decided to make it quite a bit looser and make the fold that was originally there while matching the markings but I sewed the ties about halfway into the fold instead of out on the edge. This allowed me to gain room equally on both sides of the top. In essence, I just pinched way less of a chunk. It’s not that scientific or necessary to be really exact with this part, as long as both sides are even!

I also feel like the top came out to be a bit short, but that is no problem because I can just wear it with one of the many pairs of high waisted pants I own! I used the cut line for the top built into the pattern, but next time I will add a couple of inches to the bottom. 

I hope all of this made sense! I really enjoy the finished look of this project. I thank Lamazi Fabrics for allowing me to invade their blog and giving me total trust and creative freedom! I really enjoyed working with this fabric and sharing this process with you all! It was a joy to really hack this pattern and make it my own. I have even more ideas to play with it in the future! Until next time, thank you all!

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